Hong Kong, King of Malware at Top Level Domain .hk

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In it’s yearly promotional press release touting their “SiteAdvisor” browser plug-in which warns users of spamming or malware infected domains, McAfee has announced that the ccTLD for Hong Kong – that is .hk – is the most dangerous to web surfers. Runner up is China’s ccTLD of .cn as the second most dangerous to web surfers who find themselves on Chinese malware domains. I’ll reproduce the press release in full below so you don’t have to hunt all over the McAfee web site to find it like I did.

New McAfee Research Names Hong Kong as Most Dangerous Country Domain; Finland is Safest

SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ – Hong Kong (.hk) domain has jumped 28 places as the most dangerous place to surf and search on the web according to a new McAfee, Inc. (NYSE: MFE) report called “Mapping the Mal Web Revisited” which is released today. Hong Kong takes the mantle from Tokelau, a tiny island of 1,500 inhabitants in the South Pacific.

“Just like the real world, the virtual threats and risks are constantly changing. As our research shows, Web sites that are safe today can be dangerous tomorrow. Surfing the Web based on conventional wisdom is not enough to avoid risk online,” said Jeff Green, Senior Vice President of Product Development & Avert Labs.

The second annual McAfee “Mapping the Mal Web” report into the riskiest and safest places on the Web reveals that 19.2% of all Web sites ending in the “.hk” domain pose a security threat(1) to Web users. China (.cn) is second this year with over 11%. By contrast Finland (.fi) replaced Ireland (.is) as the safest online destination with 0.05%, followed by Japan (.jp).

The most risky generic domain from 2007’s report became more dangerous with 11.8% of all sites ending in .info posing a security threat and is the third most dangerous domain overall while government websites (.gov) remained the safest generic domain. The most popular domain, .com, is the ninth riskiest overall. The full McAfee “Mapping the Mal Web Revisited” report is available for download at http://www.mcafee.com/advice

Using the award-winning McAfee® SiteAdvisor® technology, McAfee analyzed 9.9 million heavily trafficked Web sites found in 265 different country (those ending in country letters e.g. Brazil .br) and generic (those ending in .net or .info for example) domains.

The study compared the ratings of sites found in each of the 265 country and generic domains and ranked them by the number of risky Web sites found in each domain that contained adware, spyware, viruses, spam, excessive pop-ups, browser exploits or links to other red-rated sites. (2)

    The World's Most    Overall  Overall  The World's       Overall   Overall
    Dangerous Country   rank in  rank in  Safest Country    rank in   rank in
    Web Domains          2008     2007      Web Domain       2008      2007

    (ranked in order)                    (ranked in order)
    Hong Kong (.hk)        1       28     Finland (.fi)       74        70
    PR of China (.cn)      2       11     Japan (.jp)         72        57
    Philippines (.ph)      4       19     Norway (.no)        71        68
    Romania (.ro)          5        4     Slovenia (.si)      70        62
    Russia (.ru)           8        7     Colombia (.co)      69        64

Among country domains Romania (.ro) and Russia (.ru) remained in the top five most dangerous places with 6.75% and 6% of their Web sites ranked as risky while country domains like Japan (.jp) and Australia (.au) remained safe surfing environments.

Other key findings from McAfee “Mapping the Mal Web Revisited” report 2008 include:

  • The chance of downloading spyware, adware, viruses or other unwanted software from surfing the Web increased 41.5% over 2007
  • Sites which offer downloads such as ringtones and screen savers that are also loaded with viruses, spyware and adware increased over the last year from 3.3% to 4.7%
  • The Philippines (.ph) experienced a 270% increase in overall riskiness
  • Tokelau (.tk) and Samoa (.ws) were notably safer in 2008 dropping to 28th and 12th
  • In Europe, Spain (.es) experienced a 91% increase in overall risk

“For administrators of top-level domains this study should act as a wake-up call. Last year’s report spurred Tokelau’s domain manager to reexamine its policies,” said Jeff Green, Senior Vice President of Product Development & Avert Labs. “Not all domain managers are as accommodating so our mission is to educate consumers of the dangers and protect them in every way they enjoy the Web whether through their PC, the Web itself, or mobile phone. With our new secure search and website safety certification, we’re taking the guesswork out of searching and surfing online so that consumers enjoy a safer Web experience.”

Note to editors:

  • The domain risk assessments come from the McAfee SiteAdvisor site rating database. SiteAdvisor tests sites for the presence of risky behaviors such as browser exploits, adware/spyware/Trojans/viruses, high likelihood of receiving spam, affiliation with other risky sites, and aggressive pop-up marketing. Red site ratings are given to Web sites that exhibit one or more of these behaviors. Yellow site ratings are given to sites that merit caution before using
  • Rankings are restricted to 74 heavily tested top level domains and based on percent of red and yellow sites
McAfee SiteAdvisor

McAfee SiteAdvisor tests and rates, on an ongoing basis, nearly every trafficked site on the Internet. Site Advisor site ratings are created by using patented advanced technology to conduct automated Web site tests. In addition, as part of the user community forum function, users can provide direct feedback to other users and to McAfee analysts regarding their personal experience about the sites they visit on the Internet. McAfee SiteAdvisor can be downloaded quickly and for free at http://www.siteadvisor.com  McAfee SiteAdvisor works with Internet Explorer and Firefox.

SiteAdvisor has received numerous honors, including: five-star reviews from CNET’s download.com, Time Magazine’s “50 Coolest Web Sites,” Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New” and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s “Recognition of Excellence in Innovation” honor.

About McAfee, Inc.

McAfee, Inc., headquartered in Santa Clara, California, is the world’s largest dedicated security technology company. It delivers proactive and proven solutions and services that secure systems and networks around the world, allowing users to browse and shop the Web securely. With its unmatched security expertise and commitment to innovation, McAfee empowers home users, businesses, the public sector and service providers by enabling them to comply with regulations, protect data, prevent disruptions, identify vulnerabilities and continuously monitor and improve their security. http://www.mcafee.com

McAfee and/or other noted McAfee related products contained herein are registered trademarks or trademarks of McAfee, Inc., and/or its affiliates in the US and/or other countries. McAfee Red in connection with security is distinctive of McAfee brand products. Any other non-McAfee related products, registered and/or unregistered trademarks contained herein is only by reference and are the sole property of their respective owners. © 2008 McAfee, Inc. All rights reserved.

SOURCE McAfee, Inc.

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